Hello everyone! With 2017 here I thought I would branch out into more types of content besides my usual Limited articles in order to expand my horizons and what better what to do that then Commander? I normally play in paper but I decided it'd be fun to put my decks together on Magic Online and give them a test run to see how they play in a different setting.
Of course things a little different in paper than they are online. First of all, one of my decks: Sigarda, Heron's Grace is completely foiled out. It had been a work in progress for several months after she was spoiled and the deck has gone through a lot of changes as I acquire more and more foils for the deck. Secondly, I didn't want to spend too much money on the deck on Magic Online. A lot of what makes Commander fun for me is the interactions you get with various different players. Magic Online is much less intimate and more so about playing the cards and seeing who wins. Thirdly, I wanted to make videos but my laptop can't handle a four player game while recording it. It'll lag too much and make the video unenjoyable. So I have to play 1 on 1 to test my decks out.
Lastly, it's hard to build a deck when you don't know how it'll play against an unknown field. At an individual store level, you know what the metagame and atmosphere is so you're able to either play certain decks or know that a particular strategy/commander is going to draw hate. If you show up to a random four player pod however, how do you know if your deck is either too competitive or not competitive enough? I build Commander decks with synergy in mind and I generally don't like to play with infinite combos. That said, what I like to do and what someone else likes to do are two different things. What is fair game to you might not be fair game to someone else. Are infinite turns/combos permissible in the dark? Does the fact that you have three opponents make it more okay to play "unfair"? There's too many variables to account for here.
So with all of that said I decided to build some decks and see how they would work. I built them with a budget in mind (15 tickets) and played them against various other Commander decks to see if the decks would function. Winning is strictly a bonus here, but the main goal is to see if the theme of the deck would work. Let's start off with Sigarda, Heron's Grace!
The core theme of the deck is to play Humans and Angels as Sigarda, Heron's Grace defends everyone from evil. The humans that we play gain Hexproof as long as Sigarda is in play, allowing us to go wide and flood the board with humans without fear of them dying from spot removal. The token subtheme of the deck allows you to build an army with Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Captain of the Watch while they get pumped by Cathars' Crusade. If all the humans die then you can get them back with Angel of Glory's Rise that you can either tutor up with Birthing Pod or Traverse the Ulvenwald if you have Delirium.
Sigarda seems like an innocuous general to play with but if you let the army of humans build up they will overwhelm you and achieve victory. Look at the videos for a more detailed deck tech plus gameplay videos! Next up is another favorite of mine: Aurelia, the Warleader
My first serious Commander deck was Aurelia, the Warleader and I decided to build her differently than most people would think. I don't see her as an aggressive deck at all, I like to build out a boardstate and have Aurelia come in and take out an opponent or two in one or two turns. If you take the aggressive route then you'll have nothing to do after the inevitable board wipe happens, so why not scale back the aggression and play for the longer game? Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and Aurelia together make for a potent combo once you get to that state in the game. Throw in a Grafted Exoskeleton and Aurelia will one shot someone on your turn. Assemble the Legion and have a Cathars' Crusade in play to make for very angry hasty soldiers to go to war with Aurelia.
You can go wide and long with this deck as you have a fair amount of recursion plus durability. This is not the usual Aurelia deck that wants to curve out and have Aurelia be the top end. Sometimes, Aurelia likes being the first one to the party! For a more detailed look at how I play Aurelia, check out the videos. Lastly we have Gonti, Lord of Luxury!
This deck is one I made purely for Magic Online so I had never played with it before I made any videos with it. The idea is to use Gonti as best as I can. I want to cast him, let him die and come back via Phyrexian Delver/Whip of Erebos, or bounce him with Erratic Portal. Outside of using Gonti, I want to use my enter-the-battlefield effects as often as possible. In short, it's a Panharmonicon deck. Almost every creature in the deck has an ability that triggers when it enters, and with Panharmonicon in play I can double up on that trigger to get value.
I also made a bit of a combo deck when looking for cards to play in the deck. The first one is relatively straightforward: Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Triskelion. I didn't know how good the deck would be so I decided I wanted a backdoor way to win in case the deck wasn't functioning as properly, so I added them into the deck. I added Ashnod's Altar and Nim Deathmantle so I could sacrifice Gonti for mana and then bring him back with the Deathmantle to avoid the commander tax. I also realized that with Marionette Master in the I had an infinite life drain combo if I had the Master, Ashnod's Altar and Nim Deathmantle. I sacrifice the Servos for mana, drain my opponent for 3 life, then sacrifice the Marrionette Master, bring it back with Nim Deathmantle and repeat the process over and over. That combo is more in line with what the deck is trying to do, so I'm more okay with that organically happening as opposed to a forced combo.
There's quite a bit of removal in the deck to make sure that nothing too bad happens to you. The creatures I have are a bit underpowered, so I have to rely on good Gonti hits and/or removal to stop my opponent from killing me. In practice the deck as constructed is better served for multiplayer play and not in the 1v1 games I found myself in. Still, you can check the videos out to see how the deck functions and what it's trying to do.
Those decks were a blast to play and make, so I hope you enjoyed watching them in action! If you want to see more Commander content you can go over to my YouTube channel where I'll be posting more videos with other Commanders almost every week! For those of you who follow my Sealed Success column, don't fret! Next week I'll be back with the complete set review for Aether Revolt so look forward for that soon.
If you want to see me play a particular commander on a budget let me know and I'll try to make it happen. Building Commander decks is fun and something I'm going to try to do more often so I can broaden my range.
Any comments, questions, concerns? Leave them in the comments section below.